The quality of playing on Intersection not only by its leader as bassist, Ark Ovrutski, but all of the musicians is altogether exceptional. Ark Ovrutski takes nothing for granted in music. Nor should we in listening to him. If you know how your ancestral family of bassists ‘goes’, or how any other musician ‘goes’ then this almost certainly isn’t for you. Not that Ovrutski does anything wildly idiosyncratic, let alone provocatively iconoclastic à la someone playing ‘the new thing’. At the same time, mercifully, the young Russian bassist shows no sign of being a budding prophet. Rather he plainly understands that every interpretation is just one possibility, and he offers us a very enticing opportunity to open our minds to that interpretation, not burdened by tradition.
Some, like me, may be swept off my feet at the spaciousness of his playing on Waltz for Debby, enhancing, if that’s quite the right word, the underlying feeling of rush, but elsewhere revelations abound. In Wayne Shorter’s Tom Thumb, where many musicians falter, Ovrutski takes us into another world. It’s full of glinting lights, mysterious depths, expectation, frustrations, hopes and doubts… In sheer colour and variety, however, its characterisation and the exceptional range and refinement of bass playing, Ovrutski imparts a power and stature to the surroundings of the piece with a ‘bigness’ that few musicians have achieved recently.
And the variety and stylishness of the rest of this enterprising programme is matchless. It is quite simply like dancing with genius. Ovrutski brings effortless urbanity and lyricism to all the items on this disc, which are as seductive as they are persuasive and an object lesson in the very essence of style. HIS playing throughout Intersection is a model of buoyant, aristocratic grace and psychological ambiguity and he is (rightly) almost insolently effortless, bringing debonair virtuosity and swagger when it comes to Bolero and the sassy swing of the famous Ray Brown to Good and Terrible.
I am sure that Ark Ovrutski would agree with the notion that this recording would not be the same without the forces of saxophonist Michael Thomas, trombonist Michael Dease and two of the finest Brasilian musicians playing in New York today: pianist Helio Alves and drummer Duduka Da Fonseca. And how right he would be. These musicians literally coalesce around the music as if they are one body and one mind. But most important of all, what emerges is not some intellectual rush, but music that comes from the heart.
Track List: Waltz for Debby; Tom Thumb; La Mesha; Manhattan Style; The Craft; Twister; Bolero; Good and Terrible.
Personnel: Ark Ovrutski: bass; Michael Thomas: saxophones; Michael Dease: trombone; Helio Alves: piano; Duduka Da Fonseca: drums.
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